As a world traveler, leaving everything you love behind is one of the most difficult experiences that you could have in your life.
Your aging pets, your favorite restaurants and farmer's market, your go-to watering well where you shamelessly wander with your best friends on a late Friday night, your boho-chíc apartment decor that you scoured from all the best thrift stores, your favorite pairs of heels because you'll never get to wear them in the sandy streets of Egypt or on European cobblestones without breaking your fragile ankles into molecular bits, the Smoky Mountains that you grew up in, and familiar granny witch music that keeps your wayward soul in tact; every time you think about leaving these cherished things behind, your adventurous ol' heart grows a little bit heavier.
You will never be sure whether or not you can find the same sort of love and familiarity around the next exciting foreign corner. In a sense, you begin to lose part of yourself when you are forced to leave your beloved material and spiritual possessions behind you.
I have chased love, quite literally, all around this world. I fell face first into it (in the form of blinding love for a culture so vibrant it painted my dreams with Egyptian faces, which I only saw for a few moments in passing from a two-hundred year old coffee shop into the dusty backseat of a speeding taxi) while in Cairo, Egypt in 2009. I moved to that ever enchanting city all the way from Knoxville, Tennessee to pursue my graduate studies. Soon after, I toppled head over heels for my German fiancé and I had the opportunity to move to Berlin for a graduate semester abroad, where I still had to trace my love from one of the most bustling European cities all the way down to the sweet Bavarian countryside.
Through all the four to seven hour carpooling rides filled with interesting strangers and the occasional Neo-Nazi, as well as rickety train excursions with ticket-checkers passing by every stop, and last minute international flights I learned to love myself a little more too, despite 30 hour old crumbling mascara and overly squashed egg sandwiches.
Following your heart is worth it, in the end, even if you might go without all things familiar to you for a year at a time. The fascinating languages you're hearing may indeed sound like gibberish in your swollen ears (mostly swollen due to a 10 hour flight, slightly swollen from too much desert sand-build up), but you'll feel incredibly proud of yourself when you learn enough of the local language to ask for directions and/or understand when you're being directed to a nearby brothel. You'll indeed look like a desperate criminal trying to break into a grocery store on Sunday, when you realize moments later that everything (and I mean everything) is closed that day, so you won't be able to make your grandmother's secret recipe you begged for earlier that week... foiled again!
However, you'll attempt to constrict your limbs from flailing uncontrollably into an embarrassing "happy dance" when you come across a decadent half priced platter, which you've been dying to consume for the very first time, in your favorite corner of your new city. You may not feast on your mother's favorite home cooked specialties until 1,095 meals later, but you'll get to taste more exquisite foreign delicacies than you've ever imagined while exploring the world, preferably with that special someone you're "chasing".
See, chasing love does have its perks, but the best thing about chasing love? I've caught it, it feels just like home, and now I'm never letting go.